Brewers: Worst Free Agent Signings In Franchise History

Throughout its history, the Milwaukee Brewers have made some pretty good acquisitions. Although they’ve made some good decisions, let’s take a look at some of the worst free agent signings in Brewers history.

Not every free agent signing turns out to be a good one. Despite some pretty high batting averages by GMs around the league on choosing players to sign to big contracts, there are times that they swing and miss, and the Brewers are no different.

The Brewers have had their fair share of misses on the free agent market. Here are five of the worst mistakes the Brewers made in free agency.

(Note: There’s no particular order to these players)

5. Jeff Suppan

Four year, $42MM

Signing players based on their previous season has become a trend in baseball. Signing players based on a stretch of games they performed in? That’s a whole different story. That seemed to be the case when the Brewers signed Jeff Suppan.

In his career, he never had an ERA under 3.57 and although he was great for the Cards in 2006, earning the NLCS MVP award and helped them win the World Series that same year, he never was one to be considered a “lights-out” pitcher. The Brewers signed Suppan to a 4-year, $42 million dollar contract based mainly on his postseason performance and he never came close to fulfilling that contract in terms of performance.

At the end of his time in Milwaukee, he had a 29-36 record, 5.08 ERA and a 1.60 WHIP. He was released in June 2010 and had been demoted to the bullpen by the time the Brewers let him go.

4. Matt Garza

Four year, $50MM

Although Matt Garza wore number 22, he wasn’t a number 22 to remember. At one time, he was a promising pitcher in professional baseball, even throwing a no-hitter during his time with the Tampa Bay Rays.

Prior to the 2014 season, the Brewers offered him a 4-year, $50MM contract. Again, Garza was just another player that didn’t live up to the expectations that were set for him when he arrived in Milwaukee.

During his four seasons in Milwaukee, he went 26-39 with a 4.65 ERA and 1.41 WHIP, battling injuries and never started more than 27 games in a season. His contract was up in 2017 and no MLB team was interested in him and has since retired.

3. Eric Gagne

One year, $10MM

Former Cy Young award winner and power pitcher Eric Gagne was bound to be on this list. In his time with the Los Angeles Dodgers, he was unhittable, pitching 247 innings with 365 strikeouts, 58 walks, and 152 saves between 2002-2004.

Although he admitted to using PEDs, somehow the Milwaukee Brewers thought it was a good idea to sign Gagne to a one year, $10 million dollar contract in December of 2007. They definitely overpaid when it came to Gagne, but, when you’re trying to sign a Cy Young winner, the only way a small market team could get someone like that was to overpay.

He only pitched 50 games with the Brewers, finishing 16. He walked 22 batters while only recording 38 strikeouts and had a 5.44 ERA. They paid big bucks for Gagne and he did not deliver, and was only a shell of his former self. He was supposed to be the big-time closer for a team that was ready to make a playoff run in 2008, and instead he only saved 10 games. Luckily, he was a whopping disappointment that only lasted one season instead of four.

2. Tom Brunansky

Two year, $2.2MM

An All-Star in 1985, Tom Brunansky was running up a streak of 8 straight 20+ home run seasons. The Brewers had been trying for a period of time to sign Brunansky, finally getting him before the 1993 season, signing him to a two-year, $2.2M deal.

Although the dude could hit, he had no defensive skills whatsoever. By signing him, the Brewers tried to get Paul Molitor to take a pay cut, which was wrong on the Brewers doing as Molitor later signed with Toronto and had some great seasons. In the year and a half spent in Milwaukee, Brunansky hit .187 in just 96 games before he was traded back to Boston.

1. Jeffrey Hammonds

Three Year, $22.2MM

At the time of his signing, it was the biggest contract that the Brewers had ever given a free agent. Jeffrey Hammonds signed a 3-year, $22.2M contract prior to the 2001 season, and quickly went into a downward spiral.

Given his track record, Hammonds had been on the injured list seven times already in his career, and was hitting .335 with the Rockies. During the 2000 season, he hit 20 homers with 106 RBI’s, but only batted .275 with six homers on the road. When healthy, whenever that was, Hammonds did not play well. He spent half of the 2001 season injured, and in 2002 when he was able to play again, he was batting .324 but again, hit a slump, got injured and was released prior to the end of his contract.

The Brewers tried to get a player like Hammonds to drum up more excitement for the inaugural season in Miller Park. Instead, he was a major disappointment, kind of like the rest of the early 2000s Brewers.

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